If you used to cycle everywhere but a new baby means you haven't got back in the saddle yet, read one mum's account of joining a cycle skills class.
I used to cycle just about everywhere. But that changed when my son Harry came along two years ago. My beloved bike sat neglected in our garage, gaining rust and a flat tyre.
When I started thinking about getting back on two wheels, I found I was terrified of cycling with Harry. What if we had an accident?
So I signed up for a local cycle skills class run by York City Council. The training sessions aim to give parents the confidence to cycle with their kids, whatever their age.
I arrange to meet Jayne Ward from the council’s Sustainable Transport Service near one of the city’s popular cycle routes.
Swinging a leg over the crossbar with a passenger on the back isn’t as easy as it sounds
We start with the basics – practising getting on and off my bike (swinging a leg over the crossbar with a passenger on the back isn’t as easy as it sounds). Jayne also suggests getting a strong kickstand fitted as it can be tricky getting a child in or out of a seat while holding your bike.
When we set off, I notice the bike feels much heavier and it’s harder to keep my balance. Jayne says it’s vital to get used to riding with the extra weight.
“It might sound strange,” she says. “But have a trial ride with a bag of potatoes in the seat.”
As we continue on the path, passing dog walkers, I can hear Harry singing behind me. After 15 minutes we stop at a playground.
“Try to plan breaks into a bike ride, at places your child will like,” says Jayne.
After a quick play on the swings, Harry says ‘bike’ and points at where we parked. A good sign!
As we cycle back, navigating other cyclists, I already feel more confident about being back on my bike.
Over the next few days Harry asks several times to go on ‘Mummy’s bike’. Time to plan some family two-wheeled adventures.
- Halfords has a wide range of child bike seats, accessories and bike racks. It also offers a child seat fitting service. Linda used the Hamax Siesta Rear Child Bike Seat, £89.99 (suitable from older than nine months up to 22kg) and Rear High Mount 3 Cycle Carrier car bike rack, £59.00, both available at Halfords. More information at www.halfords.co.uk
Tips for cycling with an infant in a rear child seat
- Make sure the seat is fitted correctly (I didn’t feel confident doing this myself so used the fitting service at my local Halfords). It should also have a high back and secure harness.
- Plan your route, use off road paths, cycle lanes and crossing facilities. Avoid heavy traffic until confident.
- Weather - children get cold easily when sitting in a seat and not moving. Remember sun cream and water in summer.
- Take snacks, drinks, a simple tool kit and pump.
- Bright clothing is essential for both of you at night. Fit lights to the child seat and your bike.
- Build up gradually - don’t be too ambitious.
- Enjoy the experience. Children love being outside and it’s great exercise for you.
For more information, visit: www.york.gov.uk